by C.J.Dennis


Behold, I built a fowlhouse in my Yard!

Two months ago the great work was begun;

and every eventide I laboured hard,

what time my daily office grind was done.

‘tis to my industry a monument.

The fowls, my wife and I are well content.


Indeed. I built a fowlhouse. God forbid ---

although I made it, floor and roof and wall ---

that I should boast about this thing I did,

I mention it most modestly withal.

Just these two hands, this brain were all I had.

I built it on my own and I am glad.


And, as I toiled at eve, my wife would come,

the candle, nails and divers tools to hold;

as and when I swore because I hit my thumb

she did not hang the contract up to scold,

nor move a vote of censure and maintain

the thing should be pulled down and built again.


She is my helpmate, both in name and deed;

nor does she deem it policy to nag;

and when she saw my wounded finger bleed,

she bound it up most tenderly with rag.

Thus, for one end we did conspire ---

to have a fowlhouse was our joint desire.


And, when I went about my work in town,

no haunting vision filled my day with dread

that she would pull the whole contraption down;

and start a building of her own instead.

I knew, indeed, she would take care to leave

unharmed my handiwork of yester eve.


You’ll note --- if you’re at all intelligent ---

our system was simplicity itself.

We wanted something, that was evident,

to wit, a fowlhouse, perches and a shelf

for nests. I got some timber, tools and nails;

and set to work. This system seldom fails.


And when I’d done; and saw it stand complete,

with triumph was I most absurdly filled.

A tiny thing, enclosing ten square feet,

that any deft suburbanite might build.

Yet was my soul with satisfaction seized;

and, on the whole, I think the fowls were pleased.


Now that my hens are well and snugly housed;

and given cosy nests in which to lay,

it seems their gratitude has been aroused.

Our egg supply increases day by day.

And yet, I vow, when I their house designed

no sordid thought of eggs was in my mind.


Maybe I seem a trifle too inclined

to brag about a very simple feat.

Yet strange ideas crowd into my mind

when I sit down to scan my morning sheet;

and read of other builders who should be

Goliaths in comparison to me.


Their mighty undertakings, I’ve no doubt ---

vast railway lines that span a continent

and other matters that I read about ---

are apt to cause much wordy argument.

Yet I, who calmy built a house for fowls,

can feel comtempt for those unseemly howls.


For when they move to build, unholy shouts

go up to Heaven from opponent throats.

the Ins are aver brawling with the Outs;

and both are scheming sordidly for votes.

They build not as true builders, such as I,

who build for love, and scorn the trade they ply.


Thank God, my Wife and I are well content

in doing things to win a modest name,

without the aid of Party Government

and all the measures of that paltry Game.

Honest endeavour, and some boards and nails,

pride in your work --- this method seldom fails.


I am no different, I hardly care

to give advice to statesmen imminent;

and yet, on this occasion, shall I dare

to offer them some small encouragement.

Let them forgo their wrangles, curses, howls

and strive to build a little place for fowls.


‘tis sheer presumption, surely, to compare

myself with statesmen in high honour decked,

yet do I feel emboldened to declare

that I am more deserving of respect.

They, by their brawls, a mighty work have marred.

I built an honest fowlhouse in my yard .

Return to "Poetry" Home Page

Return to "Airgale" Home Page